Do You Know Where Your Website Accounts Are?

website accountsYou know where your kids are (I hope). You probably know where to find the title to your car, or your Last Will and Testament, or the gift card that’s still got 50 bucks on it. How about your website accounts? Do you know where they are? Do you even know what they are?

Since it’s a new year and we all want to get off on the right foot, let’s take a few minutes to round up your website accounts and see if you need to do anything with them. (If you read all the way to the end I’ll share some hints for how/where to store the info.)

For each account make note of the following:

  • Company name
  • Login url
  • Username
  • Password
  • Fees & billing cycle

And remember to actually test the login information to make sure it still works!

Domain Registration

The most important account of all is your domain registration. Over the years I’ve had many clients ask me “will you just keep track of that for me?” C’mon people, would you tell the car dealer to hold on your title for you?

I’ve helped other clients wrest their domain registration from nefarious hosting companies, or to reclaim ownership of a domain registered with the email address of an employee who moved on years ago.

Your domain name is the key to your business, so make sure you take ownership of it. Make sure you know where your domain is registered (GoDaddy? Network Solutions? Namecheap?), that you can log in, and that the email address associated with the account is current, active, and likely to stay that way for the rest of the term of the registration.

Hosting Account

Your website is most likely hosted on somebody else’s server, managed by your web hosting company. You should know the name of the company, login URL, username, and password. Maybe you never make changes to your website—somebody else does that for you—or you don’t have a clue what you are looking at when you log in. That’s OK. You should still make sure you have access to your website server at all times. You know, in case that person who’s been making changes wins the lottery and jets off to Bora Bora under an assumed name.

Email Hosting

Your business email, using @mydomain.com, is most often hosted by the same company that hosts your website. Check on this to make sure. You should also know how to access your email admin area, where you can add new email accounts, set up forwarding or aliases, configure spam settings and set up vacation messages.

Google Analytics

It’s a good idea to have a Google account just for your business, particularly one that is not tied to anyone’s personal information such as Gmail or Calendar. You can use this account as a login for both Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. If you do not have Google Analytics set up on your website, drop everything and set it up immediately!

Your Google Analytics data is private information about your business and thankfully Google makes it easy to control who has access to your account. While you are logged in, take a look at the authorized users and decide whether they should still be authorized.

Google Webmaster Tools

There’s a good chance your access to Google Webmaster Tools will use the same Google account as Google Analytics, but make a note of it if it is different. The good news is that Google has finally added user administration to Webmaster Tools so that you can grant or revoke access to the data on an as-needed basis. It’s the way to go. Do’t hand over your Google accounts to just any ‘ol body. Manage access to your business data like the CEO (or CTO or CFO or COO or whatever) that you are.

Software Accounts

Many websites are run by or employ software for specific uses, such as a content management system (WordPress, Expression Engine), form submission (MachForm, Wufoo), photo galleries (ZenPhoto, Piwigo), commenting (Akismet, Disqus), etc. Unless you have a specific agreement with your web developer, it falls to you as site owner to keep these programs updated. In some cases, all this involves is a click on an update button. In other cases, you may need a developer’s help. Most programs will alert you to the availability of updates as soon as you login, so it’s a good idea to periodically check for this. Running older versions of software programs can leave you open to security vulnerabilities, and you don’t want to get hacked now do you?

Social Media

You know the drill here: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+. Know which accounts are active and how to access them.

Where to Store your Website Account Info

You may have an office with locked, fireproof file cabinets and an administrator who is the epitome of organizational perfection, in which case you can write all the account info on a piece of paper and store it away. If you are like me, and putting things in a “Safe Place” guarantees that you will never find them again, then a software solution might work for you. I love 1Password for saving and securing all my login details. I’ve also heard good things about LastPass.

How About Saving Some Money?

While you are at it, this is a good time to review the fees for the above mentioned services to see where you might economize. Domain registration pricing can range from $10 to $38 a year. If you have several domains, this can add up. You can also get very low rates when transferring domains, so if you’ve been with a high-rate registrar for years, it might pay to switch to a reputable, but more affordable, one. Check your fees for web hosting as well. While you will need professional help to switch to a new hosting company, the expense may well be worth it, especially if you are not receiving fantastic service from your current host.

If you’ve followed along and made your notes, Congratulations! You’ll move in to the new year that much more organized and will be so glad to have this information at hand when next you need it.

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